The first Kirkistown Irish Championship practice and qualifying sessions were run in decidedly damp conditions, and at the close of the 125cc GP qualifying sessions, Ian had put the Mannin Collections, Lloyds TSB Offshore Bank backed RS125 in 5th position, and a second row start.
Lougher: "I was pleased with the RS125, it's no secret that we struggled enormously with the 125cc machine last year. A lot of money was spent on the engine at the start of 2004, but somehow we seemed to be chasing a good set up all season. However, the machine felt sharp today."
The MAR Properties sponsored Irish Superbike Championship qualifying was split into two groups, qualifying 6th fastest in group A, gave Ian a third row start on the Blackhorse Motorcycle Finance Superstock Fireblade.
Lougher: "Track conditions were difficult, it was very damp and slippery at the start of the session, but as the track was drying out, the rear intermediate tyre was becoming increasingly worn and with about 5 minutes left the bike was sliding all over, so I came in. On the whole the Superstock Blade feels very good, my times were consistent and we were not too far of the pace of the Superbikes, which is very reassuring for the forth coming season."
In the first 125cc GP Race, Lougher got a good start and was lying third, but was unceremoniously relegated into 5th by Davey Lemon and Matthew Percy, however Ian instantly got his head down and came back at them to finish in a very close 3rd.
Lougher: "It was my first race of the season, and I soon realised I was just not riding aggressively enough. I gave myself a bit of a talking to, and got back to work. I had a monumental battle with Matthew Percy right up to the finish line and just missed out on 2nd place by less than .007 of a second."
1st: W Dunlop (Honda) 10.30.464 2nd: M Percy (Honda) - 7.563 3rd: I Lougher (Honda) - 0.0064 4th: Tim Stott (Honda) - 4.073
Immediately next for Ian, was the first of two 12 lap Irish Superbike Championship races. Following a great start on the Blackhorse Motorcycle Finance Ltd Superstock Fireblade, Lougher found himself in 5th position. It was Raymond Porter on the J D Motorcycles R1 Superbike who made a break for the lead on Lap 3, and when 2nd and 3rd placed men Michael Pearson and Alastair Seeley had a coming together, and crashed out, Lougher, who was hot in pursuit, was forced to take swift avoiding action. With Raymond Porter clearly in view, Ian put the hammer down and closed slightly on the superfast R1, both riders responded, putting in their fastest laps of the race on lap 7. But at the flag, the Irishman held his advantage and took a well deserved win, with Lougher in a comfortable 2nd slot and Archibald in 3rd.
Lougher: "I am very pleased with that race, especially as I felt I wasn't pushing hard and I was surprised to see the lap times, I thought they would be slower than they actually turned out to be. This result is extremely encouraging for the Blackhorse Motorcycle Finance Superstock Blade."
1st: R Porter (Yamaha) 11.37.598 2nd: I Lougher (Honda) - 4.342 3rd: A Archibald (Suzuki) - 8.311 4th: Derek Shiels (Suzuki) -2.127
Getting away in fine style from the second row of the grid, Lougher found himself 2nd to Davey Lemon, in the second 10 lap Ards Tourism sponsored, 125cc GP race. But at the hairpin, the Mannin Collections RS125 suffered momentary front fork patter, and no invitations were needed, as both Mark Lunney and Matthew Percy took advantage and stormed past. Lemon, pulled out a few bike lengths lead, whilst behind there was a titanic battle going on between Lunney, Lougher, Stott and Percy. On lap 6, William Dunlop came through to join the fray, a lap on which he again set the fastest lap. Lougher continued trading places for 3rd slot with Lunney and Stott, while Percy dropped off the pace slightly. It was a three way scrap that went right to the wire, with just 0.3 of a second separating the three riders at the flag.
1st: W Dunlop (Honda) 10.29.382 2nd: David Lemon (Honda) - 0.246 3rd: M Lunney (Honda) -3.821 4th: I Lougher (Honda) - 0.226
Lougher's final race of the day was the second MAR Properties, Irish Superbike Championship race. Another great start by the Welshman from the third row of the grid, found him in pushing hard for 4th place at the end of Lap 1. But at the Hairpin on Lap 2, a mistake by Ian, saw him run wide and so hot was the pace, just the one small error saw him instantly relegated into 10th position. Lougher displaying his more familiar determined form, fought hard and clawed his way back to take 6th place at the flag.
1st: R Porter (Yamaha) 11.38.218 2nd: A Seeley (Yamaha) -1.641 3rd: A Archibald (Suzuki) - 2.177 4th: M Pearson (Suzuki) -5.759 6th: I Lougher (Honda)
Lougher: "I enjoyed the final race, although the finishing position wasn't quite what I had hoped for. My early mistake on the brakes at the Hairpin lost me too many places and it was difficult to get back passed some of the superbikes on the faster sections of the circuit, they just had the legs on my Superstock machine.
The Kirkistown meeting, my first outing of 2005, was a good opportunity to get some fast mileage under my belt and I think we achieved what we set out to do today. I am happy with the progress we have made, and I think the results and the lap times again prove what a great bike the Fireblade is in relatively stock form."